walking the world into existence
Robert Macfarlane on Eric Ravilious:
“The light and the path were Ravilious’s signature combinations as an artist. Together they create a unique disharmony. He produced scenes that seem suspended almost to the point of stasis, but that also allude to some future or simultaneous action. The effect on the viewer is one of dissonance: the sensation of occupying a space between two worlds, or even two entirely distinct geometric systems at once.” [The Old Ways, p297.]
& on Edward Thomas:
“I had come over my years and miles of walking to think of Thomas’s writing as a kind of dream-map: an act of cumulative but uncentred imaginative cartography, a composite chart of longing and loss projected onto the actual terrains of his life, and onto the Downs in particular. Thomas knew to some degree, I think, that this was what he was engaged in creating: an ongoing exploration of his interior landscapes, told by means of the traverse of particular places and the following of certain paths.” [Ibid, pp310/311.]
I think of the characters in Climbers, making their neurotic Saturday morning traverses of the Peak District, mapping their sense of incompleteness on to rainy car parks, greasy spoons and petrol stations, trying to drive the world into being; then, in relief–almost accidentally despite knowing the way–, arriving in a real somewhere at last, rollicking or plodding up the braided soggy paths beneath Stanage or Froggatt. Every repetition built up the neural pathways a little stronger, yet every outcome was still somehow undependable. Every time you went to Cheedale you could see light at the end of the tunnel. It was always a surprise.